NATIVE SPACES

 

The Community of Table Rock Ridge and Hawthorn Metro District was built using sustainable landscaping design principles in the common and open space areas.  One very big difference between a sustainable landscape and the tradition bluegrass sod based landscape is that native areas can take years to mature and become stable. The following is a detailed description of what this type of design is and why it is important to utilize these types of landscapes on the front range and across the country.  Native areas within the community follow a design principle pioneered by development in Colorado due mainly to the need to effectively utilize our scarce water resources and preserve natural habitat.

 

Denver has a goal of reducing water consumption by 165 gallons, per person, per day by 2016. Developments are required to incorporate design features to reach this goal. In an extensive 2011 report prepared by The Restoration Group, Inc. of Boulder and Hydro Systems KDI of Lakewood commissioned by Denver Water, many of the sustainable development design features incorporated into the Table Rock Ridge site plan are described in detail. Hydro Systems KDI was actually a consultant on the Table Rock Ridge Development Plan.

 

Sustainable development concepts include the replacement of water and maintenance intensive plant material like Kentucky Bluegrass turf with native type plant material. In addition to being mandated, sustainable green infrastructure areas are being intentionally featured in urban development designs because they provide a range of important ecological services, including:

  • 70% reduction in water consumption. Water use can match natural rainfall levels and eliminate the need for artificial irrigation;

  • 80% reduction in maintenance cost and mowing;

  • Erosion protection and run off reduction;

  • Water quality improvement;

  • Oxygen production;

  • Carbon dioxide sequestration;

  • Air cooling; and

  • Serving as natural aesthetic features for passive recreation and wildlife habitat.

 

In addition to these benefits, the goal is to migrate developed urban areas back to their native, historic habitat. It is important to understand that native areas are a fragile environment. Once development occurs and the native areas are disturbed, the area needs to be restored to its native state. After initial installation, it takes a few years of irrigation, maintenance and weed control to establish the native areas and several more years for the native habitat to mature. Ultimately it will take time for the native areas to be sustainable and healthy and to provide all the benefits this type of habitat has to offer.